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(Yonhap Interview) Usain Bolt looks to defend world titles, become 'legend'
DAEGU, Aug. 21 (Yonhap) -- Usain Bolt, dubbed the fastest man on earth, has set his sights on one goal at the upcoming World Championships in Athletics here -- to defend his world titles so he can become "a legend."

   "I am trying to defend my titles; that's my aim," Bolt said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Saturday. "I want to show the world that I may be coming back from injuries, but I am still the best. I am a confident young man and I want to do well."

   This year's world championships will kick off on Saturday for a nine-day run, with nearly 3,000 athletes from 206 countries. Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, is the first-time host of the signature event by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

   Bolt, who turns 25 on Sunday, won the men's 100 meters and 200 meters, and helped Jamaica to the 4x100m relay title at the previous world championships in Berlin in 2009. In the process, Bolt set world records of 9.58 seconds in the 100m and 19.19 seconds in the 200m, breaking his own marks set at the Beijing Olympics a year earlier.

   If Bolt wins both of those races in Daegu, he will become the first athlete to complete the 100-200 double in consecutive world championships.

   But Bolt struggled in 2010 with back and Achilles' tendon injuries, forcing him to shut down in August. He has been battling the aftereffects of the injuries this year.

   His best time in the 100m this year is only 9.88, the seventh best, while fellow countryman Asafa Powell owns the fastest time at 9.78. Bolt does own the best 200m time this season at 19.86, but it's still well off his world record.

   But Bolt said he is "focused and ready" to win the titles here and to be remembered as more than just a champion.

   "I want to be a legend," he said. "People have said I am a legend already because I've done so well in Beijing and Berlin. But personally, I think I need to defend my titles. So that's what I want to do. I want to ... show the world that I am the best, and then break more records and do great things.

   Bolt acknowledged he has "been through a lot for the past couple of years" and he's still building himself into "race-perfect" shape.

   "I am working hard to stay focused and to get it right," he said. "I try not to put too much pressure on myself."

   Bolt, a brash athlete known as much for his exploits on the track as for his over-the-top post-victory celebrations, said his recent hiccups haven't affected his confidence.

   "Mentally, I am always a strong person. I am always focused and I am always ready," he said. "I didn't get as much (live action) as I wanted early in the season to really get back on top. But I am still the greatest."

   Bolt may have a relatively easy path to the top of the podium. Tyson Gay, his archrival and the 2005 world champion from the U.S., will not run in Daegu because of a hip injury, and Powell pulled out of a race earlier this month with groin pains.

   Two other sprinters, Jamaica's Steve Mullings and U.S. runner Mike Rodgers, failed drug tests and will not compete here. Mullings has the third best 100m time in 2011 at 9.80, and Rodgers ranks fourth at 9.85.

   Bolt said his sole aim in Daegu is to win the titles and that world records can come later.

   "People will be looking for me to break records, but the truth is I am not in that shape," he said. "(But) if everything goes well next season and I am injury free and I work as hard as I am supposed to work, I should be able to break my records."

  

Usain Bolt (Yonhap)


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